Committee assignments draw discussion

May 10, 2019

KANKAKEE — The yearly assignments to the eight Kankakee City Council committees were set at Monday’s meeting, but not without debate.

The assignments set by senior council members Carl Brown, D-7, and Danita Grant Swanson, R-3, were OK’d by an 11-3 vote.

In years past, committee assignments had been set by the city administration. However, several aldermen balked at the assignments made during Mayor Chasity Wells-Armstrong’s first two years, so she turned the process over to the two most-senior council members.

The council leadership had said they would gain input from all the council members, but Tyler Tall Sr., D-5, noted he had not been contacted.

Tall, along with Jim Faford, R-4, and Dave Crawford, R-3, voted against the assignments. Crawford had been chairman of the council’s Code Committee for the past year, but he was removed from that role.

Tall and Crawford voiced displeasure at how the committee assignments were determined.

Crawford contended he was removed as Code chairman because of his push that the four code officers be certified. “I will keep fighting to make sure that happens,” he said.

Tall was taken off the Budget Committee and that move angered him. He remains chairman of the Ordinance Committee. He said as the senior 5th Ward alderman, he should have remained on Budget, rather than his junior seatmate, Carmen Lewis.

The major change in committee assignments concerned the Budget Committee.

Longtime committee chairman Dennis Baron did not seek re-election in April. Therefore that leadership position was open and 2nd Ward Alderman Mike O’Brien was put there.

“We are dealing with challenging situations regarding city finances,” O’Brien said Wednesday. “Expenses are always increasing and often revenues are flat or falling.”

The position was not one he sought, but he had been approached by a couple fellow council members and he agreed to take on the new role. O’Brien has been on the committee for four years.

“We are committed to developing balanced budgets. We all want the same thing,” he said.

The Budget Committee’s chief duty is crafting the annual budget and monitoring trends with expenses and revenues.

Regarding other committee assignments, Brown remains Public Safety Committee chairman. The vice chairman is Osenga.

Other assignments:

Code: Cherry Malone-Marshall, chair; Carmen Lewis, vice chair.

Budget: O’Brien, chair; Brown, vice chair.

License/Franchise: Chris Curtis, chair; Crawford, vice chair.

Ordinance: Tall, chair; Fred Tetter, vice chair.

Economic Development: Tetter, chair; Stacy Gall, vice chair.

Community Development Agency: Swanson, chair; Curtis, vice chair.

Environmental Services Utility: Well-Armstrong, chair; Swanson, vice chair.